Senators are scrutinizing Harriet Miers's record for any hints of her views on constitutional issues. This is one of the few publicly released articles in which she touches on such matters.
Excerpts from "Don't Blame the Legal System for Fort Worth Rampage" by Harriet Miers, president of the State Bar of Texas. Texas Lawyer, July 27, 1992: "In the wake of the Fort Worth shooting spree that left two lawyers dead and two judges wounded, criticism of the justice system, judges and lawyers has flowed. Some viewed the maniacal act of one man as an opportunity to emphasize the failings of the rule of law in our country. . . .
"How does a free society prevent a man from entering a courtroom and opening fire? We are loath to hear the answer to these questions as it comes from our lips, because the suggested solutions usually infringe on precious, constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. The same liberties that ensure a free society make the innocent vulnerable to those who prevent rights and privileges and commit senseless and cruel acts. Those precious liberties include free speech, freedom to assemble, freedom of liberties, access to public places, the right to bear arms and freedom from constant surveillance. We are not willing to sacrifice these rights because of the acts of maniacs. . . .
"We can and should take reasonable steps to minimize the likelihood of similar tragedies occurring in the future. Federal courts have had enhanced safety precautions for years. We know that similar precautions are needed to secure state courthouses. . . .
"Punishment of wrongdoers should be swift and sure. Only then can the criminal justice system serve as an effective deterrent. . . . Additionally, we are reminded that success in fighting crime in our nation is more than treating symptoms. We will be successful in solving our massive crime problems only when we attack the root causes. All of us, men and women, young and old, must pledge ourselves to address the ills that surround us in our communities.
"We all can be active in some way to address the social issues that foster criminal behavior, such as: lack of self-esteem or hope in some segments of our society, poverty, lack of health care (particularly mental health care), lack of education, and family dysfunction. We lawyers are trained in problem-solving and we have the leadership and other opportunities available to professionals in our society. . . .
"Our sense of helplessness and inability to understand why tragedies like these have to occur should not cause anyone to attempt to explain Fort Worth shootings as expressions of frustration with judges, lawyers or the justice system. Plain and simple, they are despicable acts -- examples of the worst nature of man. The rest of us are challenged even more to demonstrate the best."